Greely Rangers Fall Sports Preview

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Greely’s girls’ soccer team got to celebrate a state championship a year ago. The new-look Rangers are gunning for another this fall.

More photos below.

FOOTBALL

Coach: David Higgins (eighth year, 33-31 overall record)

2015 results: 4-6 (Lost, 34-12, to eventual champion Marshwood in Class B South semifinals)

Top returning players: Paul Buchanan (Senior), Austin Roy (Senior), Tim Coyle (Junior), Nick Gauvin (Junior), Joey Cassella (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: Sept. 9 @ Marshwood, Oct. 7 @ Leavitt, Oct. 21 @ Falmouth

Coach’s comment: “We have a small team this year and we’re really young, but we’ll go out and do what we do. Last year, Sam (Peck) was our go-to guy. This year, we’ll probably have three or four go-to guys. We’ll have to open it up a little more than in past years. It’s a tough league, but hopefully, we’ll be competitive.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: To say Greely’s 2015 season was eventful would be the understatement of the century. The Rangers appeared doomed when expected quarterback Matt Pisini suffered a season-ending knee injury in the preseason and Greely struggled out of the gate, but despite having to forfeit a win after using an ineligible player, the Rangers handed rival Falmouth its first loss to qualify for the playoffs, then went to Turner and stunned perennial power Leavitt in the quarterfinals. Greely was finally ousted in the semifinals by eventual champion Marshwood, but Higgins earned Coach of the Year honors for his efforts. He and his charges have their hands full again in 2016 as well.

Last year’s offense was paced by Peck, Greely’s reigning Fall Male Athlete of the Year, who was close to unstoppable in the big games. This autumn, Casella steps in to the lead back role. Coyle will also get his share of carries and freshman Naveen Caron could quickly become a household name. Gauvin, who was pressed into quarterback duty last year after Pisini’s injury, is back under center. He’ll be a threat running and throwing the ball. Buchanan and Roy are top returning linemen.

On defense, Buchanan and Roy are the proven quantities on the line. Coyle will play linebacker.

Class B South is once again loaded and the Rangers will have some tough games in the weeks to come. Like last year, it might take awhile for Greely to reach peak performance, but like 2015, the Rangers will make the most of what they have. Whether that’s enough to make the playoffs for the sixth season in a row remains to be seen, but it’s never wise to bet against this coach or this team.

BOYS’ SOCCER

Coach: Mike Andreasen (19th year, 185-88-26 overall record, four state championships)

2015 record: 9-4-3 (Lost, 3-1, to eventual state champion Yarmouth in Class B South semifinals)

Top returning players: Billy Borden (Senior), Chris Borden (Senior), Dylan Fried (Senior), Hunter Graham (Senior), Erik Kinkead (Senior), Owen McIntyre (Senior), Henry Melville (Senior), Will Pidgeon (Senior), Jack Saffian (Senior)

Pivotal games: Sept. 2 @ Falmouth, Sept. 6 @ York, Sept. 15 CAPE ELIZABETH, Sept. 20 FALMOUTH, Sept. 24 @ Cape Elizabeth, Sept. 27 YORK, Oct. 1 YARMOUTH, Oct. 18 @ Yarmouth

Coach’s comment: “We’re potentially better than last year. Losing (Jacob) Nason’s scoring will hurt, but we have a lot of people back. We won’t be so reliant on one player. We may not have the star power we’ve had, but I think we’re deeper. I have 12 or 13 guys who could start. We have a good shot, but unfortunately, everyone else seems to be better than last year. We only have to beat Yarmouth once, but it has to be at the right time.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Greely hasn’t been able to solve Yarmouth the past two seasons and the road won’t be any easier this fall, as the Clippers remain a powerhouse and teams like Cape Elizabeth and York will also be tough to contend with. In other words, it’s life as usual in Class B South boys’ soccer.

While the Rangers will certainly miss Nason’s prolific scoring (a whopping 25 goals in 2015) and the defense and leadership of the graduated Lucas Watt, this program simply reloads. This autumn, the offense will be paced by Graham, a four-year starter, Pidgeon and senior Spanish exchange student Alvaro Mendez. The midfield is as strong as you’ll see thanks to the presence of Billy Borden, Fried, McIntyre, Melville and junior Quinn Molloy. The addition of senior German exchange student Lucca Pfreunder makes Greely even more formidable. The Rangers are solid in the back as well, thanks to Chris Borden, Kinkaid and Saffian. Junior Evan Goettel and freshman Matt Kramlich will see time on defense as well. Last year’s goalkeeper, Brandon George, is spending the school year in France, so senior Sam Cloutier and junior A.J. Eisenhart will vie for time between the pipes.

One of the most enjoyable stories in high school sports on an annual basis is watching whether Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, Greely or Yarmouth emerges as the best of that terrific foursome. While the Clippers have had the upper hand the past two seasons, the Rangers feel that if all goes well, it could be their turn. Greely will be in the hunt throughout and it could be another memorable soccer season in Cumberland.

GIRLS’ SOCCER

Coach: Josh Muscadin (fourth year, 40-10-2 overall record, one state championship)

2015 record: 16-2 (Beat Hermon, 6-0, to win Class B state championship)

Top returning players: Ellie Schad (Senior), Jennie Smith (Senior), Riley Soule (Senior), Courtney Sullivan (Junior), Caroline Swaney (Junior), Anna DeWolfe (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: Sept. 2 @ Falmouth, Sept. 15 @ Cape Elizabeth, Sept. 17 WAYNFLETE, Sept. 20 FALMOUTH, Sept. 22 CAPE ELIZABETH, Sept. 27 @ York, Oct. 1 YARMOUTH, Oct. 18 @ Yarmouth

Coach’s comment: “We have work to do. We’re a completely different team. We can’t rely on what we did last year. We lost a lot of good players. We have to give our best and stay healthy because everyone will gunning for us. If we give our best, I’ll be happy wherever it takes us. We hope to put it together by playoff time.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Greely had a magical season a year ago, winning its first state title since 2002 behind an absolutely dominant postseason performance. The Rangers outscored their four playoff foes, 20-2, and appeared to be putting on a clinic much of the time. Graduation has brought the team back to the pack, however, as last year’s playoff hero and reigning Fall Female Athlete of the Year Izzy Hutnak, finisher extraordiniare Jocelyn Mitiguy, standout goalkeeper Maddie Cyr and top-notch defender Maggie Reed, along with several others, departed. While some might view Greely as vulnerable, think again, the ingredients are there for another successful season.

For starters, Schad, who made the all-region team in 2015, and DeWolfe, last year’s freshman phenom, both return and both figure to help pick up the goal scoring slack. Sullivan will be a matchup nightmare too and should also score goals with regularity. Swaney, who is almost recovered from a knee injury she suffered last season, also figures into the offensive mix. On defense, two veterans, Smith and Soule, will help make life easier for new goalkeeper, junior Molly Matthews, who was the junior varsity goalie in 2015. If this is considered “rebuilding,” just about any other coach in the state would sign up to rebuild.

The Rangers will quickly find that they’re every opponents’ state game and they’ll have little margin for error as they’re hitting their stride. This team has enough talent, however, to compete with the powers on their schedule. By late October, Greely might not be the favorite this time around, but a run at a repeat crown is within the realm of possibility.

FIELD HOCKEY

Coach: Becki Belmore (third year, 10-19-1 overall record)

2015 record: 5-10 (Lost, 1-0, to Spruce Mountain in Class B South preliminary round

Top returning players: Isabelle Bachelder (Junior), Sydney Meredith-Pickett (Junior), Madeline Perfetti (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: Sept. 12 FALMOUTH, Sept. 22 KENNEBUNK, Sept. 30 @ Yarmouth, Oct. 4 @ York, Oct. 8 FREEPORT

Coach’s comment: “We’re fielding a young team of sophomores and juniors this year. We are looking to gain experience and build on our preliminary round playoff position from last year. We play in a very competitive league and will take each game one at a time.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: A year ago, Greely reached the postseason for the 18th time in 19 seasons, but the Rangers haven’t posted a winning record since 2011. Despite some key departures and holes to fill, Greely could be one of the stronger contenders this fall.

Perfetti will likely be a top scoring threat. She’s joined by new sophomore Maria Campbell. Bachelder and Meredith-Pickett spearhead what could be a very strong midfield. Bachelder will also see some time on defense in front of new goalie, sophomore Kylie Rogers. Several other players were vying to make a name for themselves as the season dawned.

The Rangers will be tested often in the weeks to come, but they should be competitive with everyone in the league. Some early success would build confidence and allow for this squad to be at its best when the biggest games loom. If you’re looking for a dark horse this season, Greely might just be your team.

VOLLEYBALL

Coach: Kelvin Hasch (15th year, 206-24 overall record, nine state championships)

2015 results: 13-4 (Lost, 3-1, to Scarborough in Class A Final)

Top returning players: Molly Chapin (Senior), Kayley Cimino (Senior), Sara Agren (Junior), Claire Davis (Junior), Coco Petrone (Junior)

Pivotal matches: Sept. 2 SCARBOROUGH, Sept. 15 @ Falmouth, Sept. 22 @ Cape Elizabeth, Sept. 27 YARMOUTH

Coach’s comment: “We have to fill some spots this year. Lauren Murley’s spot will be tough to fill and Alex (Tebbs) and Hannah (Butland) will be very hard to replace. We’re trying to put all the pieces together. At the end, we’ll be in the playoffs where everyone wants to be. Then, it’s a crapshoot.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Greely got to its 10th state final last fall and appeared primed to win its 10th championship, but was upset by Scarborough. While graduation took some key players, the Rangers still boast a lot of talent and should be on the short list of title favorites once more.

The top returner is Cimino, who is listed as a setter, but is as powerful at the net as any hitter. Her multi-dimensional skills will serve the team well. Chapin is a veteran presence at the net. Agren will play a bigger role as an outside hitter. Sophomore Morgan Shelby, who comes to the program from Colorado, will be strong at the net as well. Davis is the defensive specialist and Petrone plays libero. Seniors Brinna Snow and Julia Stinneford and junior Stephanie Johnson add depth.

Greely is hungry after falling short a year ago and while the Rangers have some question marks to answer, they should be very strong by season’s end. Greely is the state’s flagship program for a reason. The Rangers might stumble a few times in the weeks to come, but by late October, look out, this squad wants to complete the business last year’s team left unfinished.

CROSS COUNTRY

Coach: David Dowling (20th year, 11 state championships)

2015 results:
(Boys) 3rd @ Class B state meet
(Girls) 2nd @ Class B state meet

Top returners:
(Boys) Max Stickney (Senior). Ben Wilson (Senior), Adam Bruder (Junior), Trevor Rafford (Junior), Caleb Thurston (Junior), Matthew Todd (Sophomore)
(Girls) Katherine Leggat-Barr (Senior), Kate Curran (Junior), Izzy Evans (Junior), Chloe Waldrep (Junior), Julia Curran (Sophomore), Carolyn Todd (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment:“The boys hope to improve on their third-place finish at states last year with the development of our younger runners. The girls are looking to compete with the best in the state after finishing second a year ago.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Both Greely teams lived up to the program’s lofty reputation a year ago and both are eyeing the top spot this time around.

The boys’ team graduated its top two runners, Ryan Morrison and Kyle Hansen, but return state meet scorers Stickney (15th in Class B a year ago), Todd (22nd) and Bruder (36th). Rafford, Thurston and Wilson look to figure into the scoring mix, while new sophomore Luke Marsanskis is promising and adds depth. The Rangers have to deal with two-time defending champion Freeport and team-on-the-rise Yarmouth in Class B South, but they should be able to advance again to states and post a high finish.

On the girls’ side, after winning states in 2014, Greely was second to Yarmouth a year ago. This fall, the Rangers seek to return to the top and they certainly have the pieces in place to do so. Last autumn, Greely boasted the top two individuals in Class B and both girls, Leggat-Barr and Todd, return. Julia Curran and Kate Curran will both look to move up this season, while Evans and Waldrep will also figure into the mix. Junior Chloe Smith is a new runner to watch. The Rangers and Clippers figure to again produce a great head-to-head battle with York also in the regional mix. If Greely is running at its best by the end of the season, another championship is a distinct possibility.

GOLF

Coach: Brian Bickford (eighth year)

2015 results: 10-0 (5th @ Class A state match)

Top returners: Erin Holmes (Senior), Ryan Megathlin (Senior), Joe Piwowarski (Senior), Tate Porter (Senior), Rachel Smith (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: ”Our goal for this year is to qualify for the team states at Natanis.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Greely had a strong season, as a team and individually, in 2015 and the Rangers are primed for more success this fall.

Holmes is one of the elite female players in the state. She shot an 83 at last year’s team state match and was the girls’ state runner-up. She’ll make a run at the top spot this year. Megathlin, Piwowarski (a second-team league all-star who had the team’s best round at states, 79, in 2015) and Porter could be top scorers this year. Smith will be another top female. Nathan Cyr and Brendan Scott provide depth and Henry Clapp and Ben Rosenthal are new to the team. There is a lot of depth and talent here.

Greely might not be able to produce another perfect regular season record against some challenging foes, but the Rangers will measure themselves by how they play in October, when the team and some individuals hope to be at their best on the big stage of Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro for the state championships.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Sophomore Joey Casella played a key role in Greely’s spirited playoff run in 2015. This fall, he’ll be the team’s lead running back.

Senior Dylan Fried is a top returner for a Greely boys’ soccer team hoping to end Yarmouth’s title reign this fall.

Senior Hunter Graham is a four-year starter and one of the best players in the state.

Senior Will Pidgeon is another potential scorer to watch.

Anna DeWolfe had a sensational freshman campaign during the Rangers’ title run and is back for more.

Senior Ellie Schad is another key returner and scoring threat.

Senior Riley Soule is a steady leader for the Rangers.

Junior Courtney Sullivan will pose a matchup nightmare.

Junior Caroline Swaney is battling her way back from a knee injury.

Sophomore Madeline Perfitti will be a top scoring threat for Greely’s field hockey team this fall.

Senior Kayley Cimino is one of the state’s top players and looks to lead Greely’s volleyball team back to the final and to a championship this fall.

Senior Molly Chapin is another powerful presence at the net.

Junior Coco Petrone is back to play libero for the Rangers.

Senior Max Stickney placed 15th at last year’s Class B boys’ cross country state meet.

Katherine Leggat-Barr won the Class B girls’ individual cross country title as a junior. She’s looking to cap her career in style with one more this fall.

As a freshman, Carolyn Todd had the second-best time at the Class B girls’ cross country state meet a year ago. She’s back for more dominance.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.